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Story of Lakshman Staying Hungry during the Exile Period in the Ramayana


The story of Lakshman staying hungry during the exile period in the Ramayana is more famous in the eastern parts of India and is associated with the Jagannath Cult.

Indrajit, the son of Ravana, had got the boon that he can be killed only by a person who had not eaten for twelve years, who had not slept for twelve years and who had not looked at the face of a woman (with sexual interest) for twelve years. It was impossible to meet all these conditions.

But Lakshman had not eaten and slept during the exile period. He had also not looked at the face of a woman. Thus, he was able to defeat and kill Indrajit.

After returning to Ayodhya, one day Lord Ram asked Lakshman what he had done with food packets that he used to receive during the exile period.

Lakshman told Ram that he had not eaten any of the food packets as he had to do the job of a guard and taking the food might make him feel sleepy or while eating food demons might launch an attack.

He said that he had hidden all the food in a trunk on a tree in Panchavati.

Bhagavan Sri Ram then asked Hanuman to get back all the food packets from Panchavati.

But Hanuman could not lift up the heap of food packets so he returned empty-handed.

Then Lakshman on the point of his powerful arrow brought and accumulated the food packets in front of Sri Ram.

Ram ordered Hanuman to count the number of packets. Hanuman counted and found seven packets less than the required.

Lakshman readily explained about missing seven packets. On each of the seven occasions, Lakshman and Ram had not eaten anything.

First was the day of the death of their father Dasharath.
The second was the day when mother Sita was abducted by Ravana.
The third was when Mahiravana had abducted them.
The fourth was when Indrajit had made him unconscious.
The fifth was when he killed Indrajit.
The sixth was when they killed Ravan.
The seventh was then the people of Lanka mourned the death of Ravana.

Lord Ram then told Lakshman that the real credit for his achievement should go to Urmila, wife of Lakshman. She too had not eaten or slept during the exile period.

She was rewarded for this when Bhagavan Sri Ram told that in Dwapara Yuga when he will appear as Jagannath, she will get food offered to him and then it will be known as mahaprasad.